May 4—When the Danvers High girls soccer team finished up its perfect season at 11-0 last November, Gabby Chisholm wanted to keep playing.
Not just for the Falcons, where she has one more year on the pitch, or even for her NEFC club, which she joined for the first time days after that dream 2020 season ended. Chisholm set her sights on playing through college, a goal she made a reality when she committed to St. Anselm College last week.
"Honestly, it kind of hit me when the season ended that I may only have one year left. I wasn't ready to let the game go and I couldn't imagine my life without soccer," said Chisholm, an all-star caliber defender and outside back.
So she reached out to NEFC coach Doc Simpson too see if she might be able to play at the club level. He and the team (the club's '04 level) welcomed Chisholm with open arms; many of them knew each other from the high school season and other sports, so it was easy to fit right in.
As it happens, St. A's coach Joel Bancroft also coaches NEFC alongside Simpson. As he got to know Chisholm and she, in turn, learned about the Hawks' program, it became clear St. A's would be her home away from home.
"Coach Bancroft has seen me play and constantly encourages me to work on my weaknesses, so I'll be ready to play at the next level," said Chisholm, who feels like her game has developed in big ways even just a few months of club training.
"It has definitely helped me improve my knowledge of the game especially, and my foot skills have gotten much better with the speed of play."
Chisholm's a tremendous athlete with the wind to play all 80 minutes of a high school game. She became a full-time starter at outside back for Danvers High as a sophomore and was an integral part of the Falcons undefeated team this past season.
Though she's a dogged defender, it's her ability to propel the play up either sideline that sets her apart.
"Gabby continuously makes 30-to-40 yards runs up the flank to get involved in the attack. With her excellent endurance, she's always able to get back defensively when we turn the ball over," veteran Falcon coach Jimmy Hinchion said.
Following her older sister's footsteps to the soccer field, Chisholm is grateful for all her family's and coaches' support through the recruiting process that seemed to speed by since it started late due to COVID-19 restrictions. She loves defending and embraces the pressure of being the last body between an attacker and her keeper.
"It is challenging because you know that if the ball does get by you, you're leaving your goalie out to dry," she said. "So just trying to survive those one-on-one situations without making too many mistakes is a challenge I really enjoy."
A Falcon captain-elect for the Fall of 2021, Chisholm will join graduating senior Riley DiGilio up at St. A's. Chisholm is leaning towards studying psychology or criminology but wants to keep her options open with another year of high school to go. Moreso than any one subject or concentration, the atmosphere at St. A's sold her on the school.
"It is a beautiful campus and during my recruitment visit with two of the players on the team, they made me feel very comfortable. They were just as passionate about the school, the academics as they were about soccer and they just made it seem like a great place to be," she said. "Everyone seems so friendly and happy to just be there."
Hinchion notes that Chisholm can play defense, "with an edge. She can be pretty intimidating with her defensive mindset and she's as tough as they come." From her point of view, defending brings out the passion that makes soccer her favorite sport.
"The high intensity that Soccer brings into my life is one of the reasons it makes it my favorite sport. I've always loved all my teammates and coaches past and present. I love the teamwork that you have to have when playing soccer. The connections you have to create while on the field to be successful also carry over off the soccer field. Soccer just makes everyone one big family," she explained.
A well-rounded athlete who earned Salem News girls basketball all-star honors this past winter with 72 steals, Chisholm loves the team work and communication that come from playing on the backline. Playing under the lights for the Falcons, one of the state's higher profile girls soccer squads, brings out her best.
"Being part of the Danvers program has been amazing," she said. "We always play at a high level, never give up on each other or the game ... being able to play with childhood friends has been the time of my life."